I watched a video of Stan Lee ’s take on Captain America’s questionable reveal in Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I immediately followed that by wading into the tumultuous sea that is the comments section. What I read there is what spurned this article, because sometimes I see stupid and I have to comment on it myself.
Something to keep in mind: Marvel (and before that, Atlas – and before THAT Timely Publications) Comics have been in business since 1939. During this long tenure, there have been thousands of iterations of heroes and millions of stories told, some even rewriting the very nature of how our favorite heroes came to be. Remember that time when Odin decided to teach Thor a lesson by wiping his memory and puts his essence into a mortal, human doctor named Donald Blake?
To say Stan Lee sells out is not only laughable, but downright offensive to anyone who has a love for Marvel or comics as a business. That’s what it is, people – a business. Always has been. Your overzealous passion for fictional characters and the story-boat that they row through time in is nothing more than a group of people trying to provide you with a service that you, in turn, pay them for.
Stan Lee along with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and other fantastic creators, were the driving force behind bringing comics to the place they are today. And for many of those years, Stan has been the public face of Marvel bringing his own brand of marketing to characters that he’s created (and even some that he hasn’t). You know why? Because he’s charismatic, funny, and likeable. He’s approachable. He loves his company and the products it produces. Above all, despite his statement in the video, he’s not a coward, and I imagine he’ll let you know when an idea is shit in private. But I also believe that he’ll defend your right to publish something new and different to his last breath.
See, Stan is a salesman. Go ahead and watch some of his older videos. He’s pitching to you! He’s selling you his product for the business that he put countless hours into molding into the behemoth you see today! Every creator wants you to buy their craft in some way, so to liken ANYONE in the comic business – a business of creation – to someone who “sells out” is ludicrous.
It’s ludicrous because after all these years – all these artists and writers and editors and publishers – you can’t keep telling the same stories over and over again. People will get bored. That’s why Sony keeps failing with their Spiderman movies; that’s why DC keeps pumping out reboots and resetting their storylines. In order to continue being a viable service for the public, they must continue to bring fresh blood and new ideas to the table so they can continue to exist. You don’t have to like that Captain America is a double-agent for Hydra, but you should expect it. Just because you don’t want shit to change doesn’t mean it has to stay the same. If it did, you’d get bored of it. Just like the Fantastic Four.
“It’s a hell of a clever idea. I don’t know that I would ever have thought of it for him to be a double agent, but it’s going to make you curious,” Lee told the MegaCon2016 audience at his panel. “It’s going to make you want to read the books, they’ll probably do a movie based on it, so I can’t fault it – it’s a good idea. I think it’s crazy, but it’s a good idea.”
See how cleverly this pitch-man goads you into buying his business’ product? “…it’s going to make you curious, it’s going to make you want to read the books, they’ll probably do a movie based on it…” That is the mark of a man who stands by the decisions of his company’s choices. It may not prove to be the right move, but it’s an avenue that can very easily be explored in the context of the stories. If it fails, then they can just move it to some pocket of the Marvel Multiverse, because they’re big enough to do just that. And then you can all pretend like it never happened.
While he's not reminiscing fondly over his ill-gotten acorn collection, you can also catch him pretending to know anything at all about audio while trying to produce this train wreck they call a podcast in his "studio," which is nothing more than an multidimensional pocket shimmed between the fabric of space-time. That's where sasquatches live, you know.